A Song for Whoever: Rock Edition

We thought it might be time we resurrected A Song For Whoever, where we write a blurb on a wrestling biz happening from that week and dedicate a song to the person the story’s about. It was one of our favourite regular features, so we thought it deserved another airing. Enjoy!

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During Wrestlemania 28, I had a bit of a moment. It wasn’t the tender embrace exchanged between the three veterans marking the End of an Era. It wasn’t even Edge’s speech on being ushered into the Hall of Fame; mainly because I haven’t had the courage to let his carefully chosen and heartfelt words ruin my mascara yet. It was The Rock’s entrance.

It’s no secret that I often struggle to justify being a fan of professional wrestling. I regularly use these pages to work through my tortured thought process. But the fact remains, I never walk away. The well worn line I trot out every time someone asks me how I got into wrestling is ‘I came for Shawn Michaels, but I stayed for The Rock.’ I came to find out why my younger brother was shouting ‘Sweet Chin Music’ at me, and I stayed because I developed a swift and monumental crush on The Rock.

As a teenage girl, it was that gorgeous creature peacocking about in silk shirts, suggestively raising his eyebrow at me (just me), and who always knew exactly what to say that kept me from reaching for the remote. Basic, yes. But biology often is. It was a while before I really understood what wrestling was about. It was ages before I had a grip on long and complicated stories and the infinite joy of a well crafted, old fashioned grappling match.  The Rock was like that person who holds your hand while you tentatively wade into a freezing cold swimming pool. “Come on in! The water’s lovely!” It wasn’t. Not at first. I just stared at him long enough for the water to feel warm enough to dunk my head under.

Announcing the Rock/Cena match a year in advance was probably a mistake. If there’s one thing you should never do, it’s give wrestling fans time to ponder a story. They should know by now that we’ll club the life out of anything that isn’t a moving target. But I enjoyed those last few weeks leading up to Wrestlemania more than I cared to admit publicly. I didn’t get angry about the banality of kung pao chicken. I got that Rock was setting Cena up to look like the hero before eventually coming out on top. I wasn’t prepared to write the match off as a shambles before it happened, just because it was the most mainstream thing taking place on the planet that day. I was looking forward to it. There. I said it.

What I wasn’t expecting was to feel emotional. Yes, it was 3:21am and I had consumed enough MSG laced cheese puffs that I may have been in a slightly vulnerable state. But once the wonderfully awful and awfully wonderful musical introductions had passed, I was floored by a practical freight train of sentimentality. It suddenly struck me that without that one man sending Miami into a frenzy on my telly, I wouldn’t be sat here over a decade later, still staying up all night for wrestling, still not put off by the ridicule of people who just don’t get it.

I realised that, without him, I’d be bereft of the countless happy and stupidly exciting hours of fun wrestling has given me. There are immeasurably important people I’d never have met. There are parts of the world I’d never have seen. I may even be on an entirely different career path. It might all sound rather dramatic, and at 4am it felt even more profound, but it’s no less true. When Rock went on to win, a double air punch and a YEAAAAAAAAAAH didn’t quite seem to mark what felt like coming full circle.

It didn’t even end there. Finally watching his victory speech on Raw this morning, I might as well have skipped back in time. Alone, in my pyjamas, with a big mug of tea, when Rock invited the audience to jump into his sentence with “…and millions” three times with gradually ascending volume, I absolutely played along out loud. I can pretend to be cool and grown-up and aloof, but had he hugged me instead of the blonde girl with the sign asking for a hug, I’d have had the same dumbstruck expression. And then I’d have burst into tears.

So thanks, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Thanks for making my adolescent loins burn. Thank you for holding my attention while delivering all those promos so brilliantly some 14 years ago. I still smell what you’re cooking, you big superstar you.

Sunday Musings

I was going to write a humorous summary of Wade Barrett’s appearance on Daybreak today. Nothing makes me feel more smug than non-wrestling bods interviewing wrestlers, desperately walking the journalistic tightrope of curiosity vs ignorance. The idea of Adrian Chiles snarling and spitting “Wrestling is fake though, isn’t it?” at Wade Barrett would have been worthy of a whole post in itself. Christine Bleakely trying to look interested in any man who isn’t Chiles or pretty-faced boyfriend Frank Lampard would have been great, especially when faced with wonky nosed Barrett. At least they could have discussed their shared interest in over-tanning.

If you’re not lucky enough to be British and have no clue what I’m babbling on about, Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakely are a platonic TV couple who jumped ship from their daily evening show on the BBC (where they were great) to front a daily morning show for more cash on ITV (where they are terrible). Adrian Chiles just isn’t made for being seen in the morning and Christine Bleakely makes me not want to look in the mirror myself in the morning.

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Unfortunately, Wade Barrett was bumped from Friday’s show. They needed room to cover the atrocious earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. That’s fair. They’d be hauled over the coals for chatting away with a home-grown wrestling superstar while thousands of people were suffering at that very moment. Having said that, they did find time to run a segment where five, yes five, grown adults sat around and chuckled at the fact that the Ken doll has a new haircut. It went on for some time. This was before speaking with their Hollywood reporter live via satellite to ask for an update on that washed-up actor who has been dominating Twitter with his incoherent musings. (I’m deliberately not saying his name.) Nice to know you’ve got your priorities straight, Daybreak. So Wade recorded a British radio interview to be broadcast next week and jetted off to Germany for more promotional work before I’d even caught glimpse of him on local telly.

Now what am I going to talk about? I could tell you about the dream I had last night where CM Punk dumped me for Kaitlyn while we were on holiday in Cornwall, only to find myself crying on Stephen Merchant’s shoulder, but that’s not very interesting. The truth is, it’s actually been a very busy week for both of us. It’s definitely been one of those weeks where real life has taken priority over blogging. We even had to skip our sacred ‘watching Smackdown in pyjamas’ on Saturday morning. Sad times. We did manage to watch CHIKARA’s Anniversario Elf show on Thursday, which was unsurprisingly fantastic, and we squeezed WWE Superstars in on Friday afternoon. Unusually, I’ve only just got round to watching Raw and Smackdown. Smackdown on a Sunday is wrong. It is to be watched on Saturday mornings in pyjamas with the Sidekick or not at all.

I’m not going to recap either show and the post I might have written about Michael Cole’s interruption of the Raw Divas match on International Women’s Day has already been written rather wonderfully elsewhere. More on that in a few paragraphs time. But something quite profound struck me while my eyes jogged through today’s Raw/Smackdown marathon, and that is that this really is a watershed in WWE programming. At least, I hope it is.

The forthcoming Wrestlemania is the pulling-out-all-the-stops Wrestlemania. They’ve brought legends back, others are probably on their last trot around the paddock and a young and overly stacked roster are salivating at the prospect of being moved up. Obviously, Wrestlemania is the money spinner; the one chance WWE has to draw in PPV buys from people who don’t bother for the rest of the year. Unabashed carrot dangling is expected, but what they’re doing here can never be done again, at least not without people saying “Meh. You’ve done this already. Show me something else.” If you’re going to this Wrestlemania, soak it in.

The Rock’s reappearance sent tingles down my spine, but he definitely won’t be a regular feature once ‘Mania’s done. Austin will always be around in some form, but if he values the use of his lower body he’ll never wrestle again. Trish Stratus is ultimately back to plug her own yoga business. The Undertaker’s body is so broken I’m worried he won’t even make it to his Wrestlemania match with HHH. Triple H has made no secret of the fact that he loves his backstage role and would be fine if he disappeared again. Shawn Michaels is indirectly involved in the Taker/HHH match and will be in Atlanta to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Strange as it seems, I hope this last hoorah is a way for all those legends to say goodbye.  When I started watching wrestling, all these people were at the top of their game. They were wrestling to me. They were the reason I watched. This loaded Wrestlemania card should be where they say thank you, step aside and let the young roster flourish. Yes, The Rock pulls out the most incredible promos. He always will. He’s the best. But I don’t think he necessarily shows the other performers up. Wrestling is a totally different game now and I don’t think Jim Ross was fair in telling the younger guys to shut up and stop complaining about having to share the ring with their predecessors.

It’s got to be frustrating for them and I don’t buy into the idea that today’s wrestlers are less of a draw than Rock and Austin. The output and the audience have changed dramatically. If you still want the Attitude Era and profess about how much you hate the PG era, wrestling has left you behind. You can’t compare current individual performers with those from 15 years ago because they’re working in an entirely different environment. It’s not disrespectful to acknowledge that this is a whole new ballgame. Without balls. Well, some balls, but…..never mind. You get my drift.

I’m genuinely proud of the young performers and how their media savvy selves are embracing their roles inside and outside the ring. The way Dolph Ziggler sold his faux firing on Twitter, for example, was brilliant. The current mix of former collegiate athletes, second or third generation competitors and indie stars is actually a nice mix. They don’t always use them properly and I’d like to see more indie guys being brought up, but then, I’m a born again indie geek. I would say that.

Once, Wrestlemania’s over, I hope WWE have the courage and the confidence to leave the past as it stands and put some faith into their current roster. I’m quite comfortable with Rock, Austin, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, HHH and Trish Stratus limiting their appearances to biennial pops, leaving Edge, Christian, Mysterio, Jericho and possibly even Cena to be the elder statesman. If you feel you’d be left wanting without the people brought back for Wrestlemania 27, I’ve a feeling you might find the next 18 months or so rather painful.

Before I sign off for the day I just wanted to mention the excellent work going on over at Fair to Flair. I caught up on the latest posts this morning and it’s really inspiring work. It makes me want to be a better wrestling blogger. There are very few places where you can read intelligent, thought-provoking writing on professional wrestling without the aggravating, smarky, ‘wrestling fan’ rubbish, but you’ll definitely find it there. If any project deserves to prosper, it’s Fair to Flair. I mentioned earlier that the women’s post I might have written has already been written brilliantly elsewhere and that’s where you’ll find it. Click here to read and enjoy.

We’ll be back tomorrow with our latest Song for Whoever and hoping real life gives us a break this week. Happy Sunday and if you haven’t entered our second birthday giveaway yet, you’re missing out. Click here to win excellent prizes. They’re on us!


A Song for Whoever: Rock & Dolph Ziggler Edition

BOSS LADY RAY: A couple of weeks ago my brother sent me link to an article on the 25 Worst Storylines in Wrestling. I read it, felt the shame of being a fan of wrestling and responded telling him that I had clearly wasted the last 12 years of my life and it had all been his fault for introducing me to this silly sport. Last week I found myself shouting out loud at the TV when Michael Cole was driving me to distraction. Nobody else was in the room. I felt silly. I told myself I was probably getting too old for this kind of behaviour.

Then Raw happened. I’ve been through the story of my introduction to wrestling several times before so I won’t go through it again. I’ll just insert the punchline – I came to find out who Shawn Michael was, I stayed for The Rock. I can honestly say that if it hadn’t been The Rock , the last 12 twelve years of my life would definitely have been wrestling free. When The Rock came back on Raw this week it was an incredible rush. Even though I knew what was coming (stupid timezones), when the lights when down one switch at a time and “If you smelllllllllllll……..” filled every inch of the arena, the goosebumps were instant, I forgot to breathe for a few seconds and I let out a screech that greatly disturbed the cat.

This week’s song isn’t dedicated to The Rock. It’s actually dedicated to wrestling as a whole. Wrestling, you’re still ridiculous, but……….

You will now have that stuck in our head for the rest of the day. You’re welcome. Incidentally, the most balance response to The Rock’s return I saw this week was at Kick-Out!! Wrestling. I recommend reading here.

SIDEKICK ANDREW: I’m sorry, I just can’t… it’s still too soon. Too painful. Too… raw.

raw(lite): fury, ageing and the case for john cena

So, Raw. Where do I start? Certainly not at the beginning. The beginning was truly terrible.  Truth be told, I picked through the rotting carcass that was that episode and there wasn’t much meat left worth saving. There were three things worth commentary though. Here goes nothing:

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Randy Orton captured the anger of a global audience of millions when we went off on Piven and Jeong. Go Randy Go! KNOCK. HIS. BLOCK. OFF.

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No free movie promotion on this site.

AGEING

Triple H, following a loss to Cody Rhodes, fake huffed and puffed while hanging off the ropes. It was a sorry sight as he alluded to the fact that he may be getting a little too old for all this. NOOOOOOOOOO! Of course it was all a ruse to lead us in to that long awaited DX reunion. YEEEEEAH.

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Later on, everyone’s favourite hunter made that all important phone call to his partner in degenerative crime via the locker room phone. But hold the phone, what’s this? Mr. Michaels doesn’t want to play?

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So, does this mean no DX before Summerslam? Ohhhhhhh. How disappointing. I really…..oh…..hang on… I forgot…….

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PHEW!

THE CASE FOR JOHN CENA

John Cena has been getting all kinds of heat this week . I’ve even seen calls for his resignation or firing. Ok, it’s well documented on this site that I’ve had a monster crush on JC for some time. But this has nothing very little to do with the fires he starts in my pants.

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BURN

Piven made a lumberjack match to end the show where The Miz had to beat John Cena to keep his job. He lost.

It wasn’t real, people! He didn’t REALLY lose his job. Has Miz’s character been wasted? Probably. Will he be ok? Yes. Was all this John Cena’s fault? Of course not.

I’m not going to sit here and try to convince anyone that Cena is the best technical wrestler in the company. Far from it. Even he knows that’s not true. But in WWE everyone has a role. John’s role is to be a poster boy for the prdouct. He’s a great role model for kids, he never gets up to any illegal shenanigans, he stars in movies with worldwide distribution and through his general mainstream presence he raises the profile of wrestling.

Whether you like him or loathe him, he’s actually very good in that role. Dwayne Johnson played a similar part in WWE. You don’t get to the position John Cena has reached without having something that sets you apart. For him, that may be personality. The best wrestlers aren’t necessarily the best known faces. That may be grossly unfair, but if you don’t want ‘sports entertainment’, why are you watching?

Of course a big part of the problem at the moment is that rather than hype the Summerslam matches and grow the storylines to the point where we’re bursting to see how they end at the PPV, they’re faffing about with promoting movies for people who have no connection to the industry whatsoever. John and Randy should be verbally and physically battling each other at every single opportunity at the moment. What did they have John do this week? They put him in a Mickey Mouse match with The Miz and left him in the ring to play out a cartoon ending involving Piven and Jeong. It’s not all his fault. Drop the witch hunt, guys. And keep breathing.

RAW(Lite): THE CHAOS BEFORE THE STORM

[This post was originally posted on http://buymyown.wordpress.com and has been imported in to wrestlegasm.com by the author]

Ok, so, my first proper wrestling post. I’ve been looking forward to this. This is actually my favourite week of the whole wrestling year- the week before Wrestlemania. I wish they would put this much effort in to EVERY week and not just before Wrestlemania.  Apparently they’re trying super-hard to be entertaining this time around to reach one million global PPV buys. Good luck to ya, Vinnie.

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My love of the WWE, or the WWF as it was called back in the days when I first discovered it’s greatness, is about a decade old. I was first seduced by bulging biceps back in 1999 and once you get sucked it, it never ever leaves you. It’s like a tattoo on your arse. You don’t want to admit it’s there but it is. And it’s not going away.  I remember my brother trying to kick me in the face shouting “SWEET CHIN MUSIC! SWEET CHIN MUSIC!” I needed to find out what the hell that meant, and I was VERY pleased with what I saw.

I know what folks think. It’s not real. They’re not actually hurting each other. They decide the winner in advance. Well,  a lil bit yah, a lil bit nah. Yeah, they decide who’s going to win waaaay in advance. They’ve got a whole team of writers who decide what path the characters will take. And that’s the point. They are CHARACTERS. It’s a soap – with good guys, bad guys, comedians, bitches, sexy boys, sexy girls, romances, bromances, back-stabbing, family feuds….I could go on but you see where I’m coming from, right?

It’s NOT ABOUT what happens in the ring. At least, not for me. I likes me some dramaz. And I LO-O-O-O-V-E the beautifully buff bods that go along with it all. In fact, it was The Rock’s glossy pecs that got me to stick around after the sweet chin music novelty wore off. But seriously, if it wasn’t for the Rock being such a smooth operator, I wouldn’t be boring you with this post right now. Ain’t life grand?

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Ok, look , they may not actually be punching each other in the chops, kicking each other in the knackers or cracking each other across the back with steel chairs (I personally think they’re made of turkey foil), but what they do to each other HURTS. It REALLY HURTS!  That ring is HARD. It’s not like the guy in the T-Mobile Flext ad where everything is soft and sqidgy.  Oh no.

THIS is what it’s REALLY like………………………

Oh My God, Paul. You are awesome. Can I please be your friend? See, I called him Paul ’cause that’s his real name and if we were buds, I’d be calling him Paul. See? Yeah, I know. I’m a loser.

That’s enough preaching for one day. The best brainwashing is ALWAYS done quietly and sneakily. So watch your back, I’m planting wrestle-love in your brain and it spreads like wildfire.  Now let’s see just what made my boat float on Raw this week.

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This one HAS to be good. This is Vince McMahon’s penultimate opportunity to persuade the public that they should spend their precious wages on his product instead of, you know, paying the phone bill and feeding the dog.

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I am a self -confessed Chris Jericho junkie. Not just a fan. He gets my motor running. Like Vrrrrroooooom! Not sure what it is. Probably the fact that he’s a Rock n Roll GOD. Probably the short blonde tresses and the extreme hotness. The fact that he’s a really lovely bloke, despite all that nasty ‘punched a female fan’ business. Those idiots were prodding and poking at him like was a caged animal in the zoo. The girl in question  spat on him and hit him. What, you think because someone’s famous you can get away with abusing them? Morons. Then there’s the humour. Ahh the humour, which  I am currently mourning the loss of.  Come back jolly-Jericho! I dig your heart-stopping stares and the flashy suits, but I miss the laffs. I  also dig that Canadian lilt. “You been hanging aboot the hoose today, eh?” Ahh. Tingles.

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So off the back of the whole Mickey Rourke thing, Y2J is taking on some of the legends being inducted in to the Hall of Fame on Saturday. He will, of course, lose. There’s no way the old statesmen will be defeated by a pip-squeak on their old-timers’ club trip to Houston. On Raw he took on Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler. What the hell is this? Help the Aged? Only joking. Wrestling ain’t wrestling without you squalking all over it, King. LOVE YA! It’s all very well and good, and the Mickey Rourke angle will catch a bit of media attention, but after it’s over, give my fella a proper storyline, alright? Eeeeexcellent.

On to my other lover. Jooooooohn Ceeeeeena. Ohhh baby. Apparently he is getting married to a girl he’s known since they were kids. Pffft. Thanks, John. Why don’t you just rip my heart out and hold it in front of my face, eh? Anyway. Yes. Wrestling.  Ahem. While Chris Jericho does his mean and moody thing, John is tickling my funny bone. No, that’s not a euphemism. Although, he should consider it socially acceptable to tickle me anywhere he chooses.  He really is making me LOL. I love-love-loved his greeting card for Vicky Guerrero last week. In fact, I love it so much I think I’ll watch it again. Join me if you will……

Oh John. Why so cute? Anyway, this week it was all action. Vicky, Edge and Big Show went about their strange lust triangle and John kept his pretty eyes on the pretty prize – Edge’s World Heavyweight belt. Edge even tried to sweet-talk John in to teaming up with him so they could, you know, hold hands and defeat the unnatural giant that is the Big Show together at Wrestlemania. Cheeky, bugger. My boy declined. Of course.

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I’d be quite happy to loiter around JC’s locker room with a wide-lens camera a little longer, but it’s time to move on to the Undertaker / Shawn Michaels thing.  I’ m not a big fan of either. I like HBK when he’s doing DX with my third honey, but on his own I find him….. kind of… meh! [Sorry, Foster. Don't hate me] The other thing that’s winding me up about Michaels is that, from what I’ve heard, he has used his new-found religion to get out of doing certain things, and yet he is exploiting it in this current feud just for the sake of the story.  It kind of smacks of double standards.  Having said that, I’d like to see Taker lose, just for a change.  Apparently it’s illegal for Undertake to lose at Wrestlemania.

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Now on to the big one. The storyline giving me a total lady-boner. The match you ARE going to buy Wrestlemania for. Promise me? Your fingers better not be crossed.  It’s Triple H (+the McMahon Family) vs Randy Orton, flanked by his two errand boys (Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase).  OH MY GOD. Anything that involves Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in the same storyline makes me go in to total Cheshire cat mode.  And the fact that their marriage straddles that blurry WWE line between reality and fantasy confuses and delights me at the same time.

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After the  events of last week, I wondered how much more drama they could pack in to this story. Maybe it’s reached its peak? Orton handcuffed Hunter to the ropes, beat him up, dragged Stephanie in to the ring, knocked her unconscious and softly pressed his lips to hers while Triple H watched on in despair. Nice, eh?

So there’s Randy Orton, he of the shiniest thighs on the planet, in the ring telling us how fucking amazing he is. Ok, he didn’t F. But it was THAT strong! A shiny limo rolls up outside and, oh baby, now some shit’s gonna go down. What’s gonna happen? What’s gonna happen? AAAARGH! Tell me. Orton brings up the lights, calls out his errand boys and a gaggle of security dudes for protection. One again….. OH. BABY.

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We all wait for Triple H to appear. But HARK, who is that? VINCE. IT’S VINCE. OH MY GOD. AWESOME. No chance, that’s just what you got. Indeed, indeed, Mr. M.  By the way, what has Vince been up to in the gym while he’s been away? Has he had his skin replaced with an inflatable material that somone has to pump air in before he goes out in public? He looked….so…..well….INFLATED! Jacket comes off, tie flies off, sleeves rolled up, the old fella’s ready for a brawl I tells ya.

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A few seconds more and Shane appears. Oh God. This is too too too good. Who’s the third gonna be? Stephie? Linda? Baaaa0000m! Baaoom-Baaoom! TIME TO PLAY THE GAME. Yeeeeeeeey! Triple H. Standing sideways, looking livid. After much fierce staring (and my gasping for air for lover number three) The McMahon Men strode strongly towards the ring in unison. I swear to GOD, if there is such a thing as a Wrestlgasm, I had one.  A BIG ONE. OOOOOOOORGHHHHH!

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If you don’t want to cough up some cash for Vince McMahon after that, I don’t know what else will persuade you.  It all ended in giant punch-fest which, quite frankly, left me needing a cigarette. Observe……….

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Now I’m off to contemplate what might happen on Smackdown and to start googling mocktail recipes for my Wrestlemania party-for-one in the early hours of Monday. Oh timezones. Why must you torture me so?

ENDNOTE: NEVER let me Santino Marella in a mankini again. Ever, ever, ever. As if the fake uni-brow wasn’t hideous enough.  I’m just thankful he had shorts on underneath. Eesh!